“You've got to be kidding me!” I turn my eyes on Elijah. “Tell me that this is some twisted joke, this isn't funny.”
He folds his arms over his chest and shrugs, he ignores me. “As you can see, you are all paired up. First fight will be between Dean and Jax. After they have successfully completed their fight, Shiloh and Zahn will be up next.”
Zahn and I scream together. I can't fight him, I refuse. It's not happening. Our hands are still intertwined as I stand beside him helplessly. If he lets my hand go, I'm sure I will fall to my knees, overcome by the sobs that threaten to burst from my eyes and throat. Zahn adds pressure squeezing his fingers against the back of my hand. “I refuse to fight Shiloh.”
Elijah laughs, cold and short. “You have no other choice. You both fight, or you leave and never come back.”
I look at the two males preparing. Jax stretches his right arm across body, I recognise him as the male who couldn't tell left from right. I compare him to Dean, who is bigger and more threatening looking. I try to place him and then I remember that he is an Erudite transfer along with Eric. I sigh at myself, I've been at this compound for over two days now, I should be able to recognise and name my fellow initiates. Dean smirks at Eric who has his arms crossed over his chest, leaning against the wall leisurely, as if this meant nothing but a stroll in the park to him.
The two males stood in the centre of the room, their eyes never breaking from the other. My whole body is shaking from the shock and the lights seem so much brighter, more intense as I feel the sweat soaking the back of my neck, making my thin black t-shirt stick to my body. I try to even my thoughts, my breaths, my everything but as Elijah speaks, I find it extremely difficult to do anything. “Jax, Dean, start.”
Jax went straight for Dean, thrusting his arm out with his fist clenched as he tries to land a punch but Dean is too fast, he simply sidesteps his movements. Jax stumbles and falls, he stops himself at the last moment and is about to stand up when Dean lands a kick into his stomach. He groans and rolls over, clutching his side.
My eyes widen as I watch. It is brutal, fast and out of my league. Do I give in and fight Zahn or do I stand my ground and suffer the consequences? Dean drags Jax to his feet, who is flailing his arms around, trying to catch his breath.
He catches Dean across the jaw, temporarily stunning him, causing him to stumble and loosen his grip on his opponent. Jax takes advantage of this and catches him with an uppercut that sends him sprawling. I close my eyes and take deep breaths, I can't bare to watch as they battle it out in front of us. Zahn let's my hand go and walks to the small open window. I open my eyes and watch as he leans his hands on the ledge, leaning his head against the window pane, taking deep breaths. Both of us have never fought before and to think that our first fight is against each other, it's unbearable.
Elijah walks around the fight, watching with intense grey eyes as he observes their movements. A loud thud echoes around the room as Dean hits Jax with a thunderous punch. He collapses on the ground and I notice the blood flowing freely from his forehead.
The other initiates watch with mixed reactions. Eric is revelling in the blood, Tobias' eyes follow each movement, not with joy of the fight but like he is studying the fighting style. Two girls that I recognise as Zoey and Aylin are standing close together, whispering messages back and forth, clearly not bothered by what's in front of them.
I break my eyes away from them, they aren't making my mood any better. Elijah stops in his tracks beside me, keeping his eyes on the fight as Jax kicks out, flooring Dean. He speaks to me in a hushed whisper. “Is it really worth it?”
“What do you mean?” I whisper back.
“Going against the rules of the play just so you can keep your love life going?”
I hesitate slightly. “I can't fight him, it's not right.”
“Nothing in life is right. You just have to take what it gives you and do your utmost best to succeed.” He looks at me, “Are you willing to throw your chance at a Dauntless life because you have to fight your loverboy?”
I grit my teeth as another punch is landed. “His name is Zahn.”
He laughs coldly. “I couldn't care less,” he leans his lips closer to my ear. “Put it this way, if you don't fight, your life is over. Being factionless, it's a fate worse than death.” He studies my reaction as I try to keep my expression unreadable. “Remember that,” he adds before he walks away again.
By the time I'm aware of my surroundings, Jax is lying unconscious on the floor, his blood pooling around him. Dean is in a crouched position, his right hand planted on the floor, gasping for air. Elijah calls over Tobias and Eric. “Get them both to the infirmary now,” he points at Jax. “Make sure he's seen to first.”
Eric scowls at Tobias but nonetheless, he helps drag Jax out. Dean following sluggishly behind. Eric is heard before the door closes on him. “I can't wait to fight.”
Elijah's arms fold over his chest and he looks straight at me. “Time's up for you to think. You fight or get out. Choose now.”
Zahn turns from the window. “I refuse.”
I bite my lip as I try to think. Fight or leave. Fight or leave. Fight or-
“Shiloh, I don't have time for this. Choose now or I will choose for you.”
I don't look at Zahn as I answer. “I'll do it.”
I don't want to leave, I can't. I don't want to appear weak. Damn, why am I so flippant in my thoughts?!
“I'm sorry Zahn but there's too much to lose. I have to, please forgive me.”
Elijah claps his hands together. “Great, now that that's sorted, we shall begin.”
“What? Don't I get a choice in this?”
I almost plead with him, “Please, Zahn, please.”
We stare at each other for a few moments as I walk into the centre of the room. He sighs and walks too, stopping inches from me. “I won't hurt you,” he presses his lips to mine and I start to crumble with my decision.
“No!” I push him away and hurt spreads into his eyes. I see Elijah smirking to the side but I ignore him as I look at Zahn. “Stop saying that! You have to.”
He frowns in confusion. “I'm not going to hit you, Shiloh.”
Zoey sighs dramatically. “Get a move on already, we have stuff to do.”
“She's right, move your asses!” Elijah adds.
The only way to get him to fight me is to bait him. It breaks me inside to have to do this but it's the only way. I take a deep breath as I start to circle him. “I couldn't care less about what you can or can't do.” I jab him quickly in his side and he turns to face me, even more confused. “Fight me!”
He shakes his head. “I won't.”
I start to get angry, I lash out at him, catching his cheek with my fist. “Fight me you coward!” The words are out my mouth before I can think.
His mouth drops open slightly. I throw another punch at him and he catches my wrist, holding it tight so I can't move. “I'm not a coward and this isn't you. What's gotten into you?”
I try to pull my wrist back. Everything that I've been thinking, everything that I've questioned about our relationship starts to spill into the front of my brain. It's all I can think off as I kick him in the shin. “Stop smothering me. You don't own me!”
He raises an eyebrow as I break free from his grasp. “I never said I did. What's going on, Shiloh?”
I pummel my fist into his stomach and he doubles over, gasping at air as I jump back. “I'm fed up of how good you are, I can't stand it. You think you're better than me. You think you own me. You think I'm yours?” I scoff coldly. Why am I saying these things? I can't control myself. “I'm not yours and I never have and I never will be.”
I tear falls from his eye as he looks up at me, almost paralysed from my words. My heart has torn in two as I speak. I've hurt the one person I have ever loved... just so I can stay at the Dauntless compound. Just so I can get a good mark... I'm a monster. “Shi-”
I shake my head. “I've met someone else, someone much better than you...” he looks up at me, completely defeated. “And he's a better kisser.”
That hammers the last nail in. He gets up and lashes out, catching my cheek with his large fist. Stars erupt in my eyes as I stagger back. This is what I wanted...
His eyes are wide with rage as he swings around with his opposite hand, it connects with my other cheek and I'm sent backwards. I lay on the floor, my vision blurry as he descends upon me. “This whole thing? Us? It's a lie? Are you that vindictive? Are you that cold?” He pins me to the floor, his knee pressing into my stomach. I can't breathe. “What happened to you?”
I struggle. “I can't- I can't-” the words are caught in my throat.
He presses harder. “You can't what? Give me an explanation? Give me a real reason? You can't what?!” He whips his elbow against my face and I feel my eyebrow splitting open. The warm touch of blood trickles down my right side of my face and I blink again. “Hmm? Tell me what you can't do, Shiloh. I'm waiting,” his voice is cold and unnaturally high.”
I can't do anything, I'm trapped. “Breathe,” I manage to whisper although it comes out as a choked rasp. “Z-Zahn, I can't b-breathe!”
I feel air against my cheek as he stops his fist inches from my skin. My vision is blurry, my head is pounding and I can't tell if I'm lying still or the ground is moving. My senses are completely out of it and I struggle to keep my eyes open.
The weight of Zahn is lifted from me and I hear a grunt. Soft hands touch my cheek and check my pulse. My eyes must not be open, I can't tell. At least my hearing is intact, I can focus on what I hear as I lay here. “She's barely breathing, we need to get her to the infirmary immediately.”
“It's you. It's you who she was talking about,” Zahn's voice calls.
The soft hand holds my shoulder gently, I welcome it's touch. “What are you talking about?” There is a pause. “I'm guessing the punches she landed has scrambled your brain.”
“Don't mess with me, Elijah. It's you, she's cheating on me with you.”
There is silence and then laughter erupts from his throat. “You've got to be kidding, right? I've not been anywhere near her and I never will. Zahn, stop being such an ass and go get your head seeing to. By the looks of you, you need it.”
“I'm not crazy!”
I'm lifted into strong hands and my head falls against a rock hard chest. “Those words never crossed my lips,” Elijah's voice is soft and almost gentle as he stands with me in his arms. “Now if you don't mind, I'm going to take your half dead girlfriend to go get fixed.”
“Don't touch her!” He sounds beyond angry, like he's in a rage. “Don't you dare touch her.”
“Can't you see I'm already holding her? Like I said, you need to go get checked out. This session has ended, the fighting will resume tomorrow.”
I sway as he walks out. His arms feel weirdly comforting to me as I try to open my eyes. My eyelids flutter slightly then light erupts into my vision. I see his square jaw set as he looks ahead, his blonde hair waving lightly in the small breeze that cuts across my cheek, stinging me. “Eli-” I croak.
He chuckles softly. “I thought I told you not to call me that?” He looks down at me, his grey eyes viewing me with concern as I struggle to keep my eyes open. “Hey, stop fighting it. Just close your eyes and relax.”
All I can do is nod as I let my eyes slid shut, his smile is the last thing I see.